Frontline Initiative Teamwork

Supporting Successful Travel


Brian Clukey is a self-advocate from Falls Church, Virginia

The Guided Tour, founded in 1972, was a pioneer in providing travel and vacation programs for people with developmental and physical challenges. The program evolved from one-day and weekend trips to include longer trips around the United States, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean.

There are a number of things DSP can do to ensure that the people they support have a successful travel experience. For example, DSPs assisting people to complete applications for travel need to ensure that the information provided is complete in order to prevent any problems on the trip. Information that has proven particularly important includes —

  • Information about food allergies or special diets. Tour guides can then assist the travelers in making healthy food choices to prevent an illness that could ruin the vacation for the traveler.
  • Information about challenging behavior. Tour guides who are forewarned about challenging behavior are better able to structure activities, recognize stressful situations, redirect travelers, and are better able to assist travelers in managing the stressors that often come with travel (such as roommates).
  • Information about fears and other anxieties. This can be critical information for tour guides to have. While tour groups can assist and accommodate many people’s fears, some trips may not be possible for some people who have long-standing fears. For example, a fear of heights can make trips to London challenging where three to four story high escalators are used to access the subway system.

DSPs can play an important part in ensuring the people they support have a fun-filled, successful vacation by helping the people they support carefully consider their likes, dislikes, needs and desires when selecting a vacation. Using this information can ensure an appropriate vacation is planned, tour staff are prepared to assist travelers with their needs, and that fun will be had by all.

Irv Segal is the director of The Guided Tour.

A Fun-Filled Vacation: Mississippi River Cruise

I saw an ad in the ARC news about The Guided Tour, and picked a cruise on the Mississippi Queen to New Orleans.

 I flew to New Orleans for the trip. There were about 15 to 17 people that went on the cruise. We waited until everybody arrived and then we went to the hotel together. It was a wonderful feeling that I had accomplished this in my life, that I can do this.

I met a nice man who became my roommate, and we had a good time. We did almost everything together on the ship. On the first day, we walked to the French Quarter of New Orleans, before we got on the boat. We went to a famous coffee shop on Bourbon Street. We also went to souvenir shops. It was really exciting, even though there was no live entertainment while we were there.

We took a bus from the hotel down to the docks. I thought the boat was huge when I first saw it. When I walked inside, I was surprised. It was luxurious with couches and looked really comfortable. Our room was small, but nice. We went up to Baton Rouge and then back to New Orleans. The side trips we took were very exciting. We stopped and got off the boat and went to a plantation. There was a huge old mansion, pretty flowers, and beautiful fields.

On the boat, we played shuffleboard, flew kites, and sat on the rocking chairs. The sunsets were beautiful.

One night we had dinner at the Captain’s table. There was a lot of southern food. I ate a lot!

They had entertainment after dinner. There was music with guitar and piano, swing dancing, a Mardi Gras celebration, games, and country line dancing.

When the trip was over, we went back to the airport. I was glad to get back home, even though the flight was smooth. It was good to see Mom and Dad!